Jose Mourinho was out-thought by Pep Guardiola in the first half of one of the biggest fixtures on the planet when Barcelona hosted Real Madrid at the Nou Camp in a La Liga encounter which produced 2 goals for Barca in 17 minutes.The pace of passing and accuracy thereof by Barca was digital. Madrid literally chased shadows, failing with extreme and chilling accuracy to complete 2 passes in succession.
Madrid had it in good control for a routine Barca short pass movement, as they fortified the rear centre to restrict penetration in the middle by short passes. The tactic was efficient to sterilise the movement with and without the ball for Lionel Messi, Xavi and Iniesta because the short passing game was nullified by the number of personnel behind the ball at crucial moments. That was exactly what Guardiola had in mind.
Barcelona exchanged several short passes at one channel in the middle third and then a long defence splitting diagonal pass beyond the defence line. Xavi and Pedro finished with class and ease respectively. Real did not help themselves by the way they toiled so hard to get the ball and give it back without Barcelona without even trying to win it back. The regularity of this abhorrence irked The Special One more than the loss of concentration that led to the 2 goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo and company tried far too hard with little benefit until about the last 10 minutes of play to half-time. They temporarily took control of the match, winning a crucial free kick that missed the target by a hair-line. Otherwise, they were no match to the slick and accurate passing of Barcelona.
It was more of luck than expertise that the lead was not extended as Messi mercilessly ran rings around the Real midfield and defence in the second half. Barca came off sharper being first on the ball and winning the second ball. David Villa, with his mesmerising runs, was always well picked up by Messi's through ball, but it was until the 56th minute that Villa converted the 3rd goal following a failure to convert an easier opportunity seconds earlier. 60 seconds later, the same passer, same run and same ball resulted in the 4th by the same scorer.
It was the real Barca that came back in the second half against a seemingly fake Real Madrid that seemed haunted by the Nou Camp. Beside the crisp passing, the ball control was incredible. Lass Diarra, brought in at half time to minimise the damage was vital in winning essential combats but the battle was already lost. Bojan replaced double scorer, Villa, and almost scored twice with his first and second touches. There was time for the fifth when a young player Jeffren completed a 5-0 drubbing of the Galatico.
What was notable about Barcelona football, was the timing of the pocket runs by the attackers and the slotting of the ball into the pockets. The diagonal runs eliminated the whole flat four defence in a single movement. If it was a case of Messi versus Ronaldo, the later lost badly. As for Mourinho, it was a TKO by Guardiola. Madrid know too well that the championship is not over as there is lots of points to fight for but tonight, they were just outclassed. Knowing Jose, he took a hint.